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Maple Leafs name Kennedy first to Legends Row

Thursday, 08.14.2014 / 10:00 AM / News

NHL.com

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Thursday that Hockey Hall of Fame member Ted Kennedy will be the first of three players to be honored with a statue in Legends Row.

Legends Row will be in Maple Leaf Square, outside Gate 5 at Air Canada Centre. Two other initial honorees will be named during the Toronto Maple Leafs Fan Fest, which starts Sept. 6.

"In addition to our focus on building a winning team for today and the future, there is an important responsibility to celebrate our team's history and to create opportunities for a strong connection between our fans and that tradition," Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said. "Legends Row will be a fitting tribute that honors many of the greatest players to ever wear the Maple Leaf while giving our fans the chance to feel a part of that history. We are thrilled to include Ted Kennedy, a player who always gave everything he had to his team, and two other Leaf greats, as the first three players to be recognized."

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Predators hope Ellis contract done before camp

Thursday, 08.14.2014 / 9:44 AM / News

NHL.com

In what has been a busy offseason for the Nashville Predators, one more important goal has to be reached.

Ryan Ellis, who was third among the team's defensemen last season with 27 points, is the lone restricted free agent from last season's roster still unsigned.

"Like 99 percent of negotiations that aren't done at this time, we just don't agree exactly on what the dollars should be," Predators general manager David Poile told Josh Cooper of The Tennessean. "Hopefully it will be done by training camp. That's what our target is."

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Blues add center depth to already formidable lineup

Thursday, 08.14.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

There are a lot of great teams in the Western Conference, and it has been that way for much of the salary-cap era.

In the past three seasons, no team in the West has won more regular-season games than the St. Louis Blues. Only the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins have won more in the NHL.

The Blues have famously had very little success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs during this time. While either the Los Angeles Kings or Chicago Blackhawks have won the Cup each of the past three seasons, one of those two clubs has also ended hockey season in St. Louis.

Like several other teams in the West, the Blues decided they needed more help at center and acted. Paul Stastny was the best free agent available at the position, and Jori Lehtera was finally convinced to come to North America.

The Blues also lost Vladimir Sobotka to the Kontinental Hockey League, and are going in a different direction in net. Will they finally be able to translate regular-season success into the postseason?

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Blues:

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Stastny's impact, goalies among Blues' five questions

Thursday, 08.14.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

The St. Louis Blues have had to stand by helplessly and watch the Los Angeles Kings (twice) and Chicago Blackhawks hoist the Stanley Cup the past three seasons.

After consecutive losses to the Kings in 2012 (second round) and 2013 (first round), and to the Blackhawks last spring, the Blues knew they couldn't stand pat. They had to upgrade in positions that the Kings and Blackhawks used as strengths in order to expose the Blues' weaknesses.

Here are five questions facing the Blues as they try to challenge for a Stanley Cup:

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Blues happy to get Lehtera to NHL at last

Thursday, 08.14.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

When the St. Louis Blues selected Jori Lehtera with their third-round pick at the 2008 NHL Draft, an element of the unknown followed the Finnish-born center, one that had nothing to do with his on-ice skills.

The looming question was whether the Blues could get Lehtera to North America.

Lehtera, 26, made impressive strides at the international level as well as playing for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and Sibir Novosibirsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Ultimately, he turned out to be the wild-card free agent signing that nobody in St. Louis saw coming.

When Blues general manager Doug Armstrong attempted to get Lehtera to the NHL before the 2013-14 season and was turned down, it was viewed as a possible last-gasp attempt to bring him to St. Louis.

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Blues look for answers to playoff struggles

Thursday, 08.14.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

Talking about how and why they lost in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs was bad enough for the St. Louis Blues. Little did they know they would be addressing the same issues as reasons for being ousted one year later.

Those points of emphasis are what the Blues have been dealing with since losing in the first round to the Chicago Blackhawks in April. The six-game loss to the Blackhawks followed the same script as 2013, when the Blues lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games after they had grabbed a 2-0 series lead.

Amid what seemed like a myriad of issues, one problematic obstacle always seemed to hover as an Achilles' heel: the inability to score the timely goal.

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Goaltender Allen leads Blues' top 10 prospects

Thursday, 08.14.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The St. Louis Blues have two things going for them: they're highly skilled up and down the roster and their top players still have their best years ahead of them.

However, that makes it very difficult for any young player looking to break into the lineup.

"It's a tough situation for a young player coming in," Blues director of player development Tim Taylor told NHL.com. "We can be very easygoing with them and patient with players to develop because we don't need them to step in and be a big part of the team. We let them mature and when they're ready, and we feel they're ready, they can step in."

A few of those players might be ready this season, but the majority will have to bide their time while refining their game at lower levels.

Here's a look at the Blues' top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

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Penguins' Bennett aiming for camp after wrist surgery

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 7:59 PM / News

NHL.com

Beau Bennett
Right Wing - PIT
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 7
SOG: 27 | +/-: -2
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett  resumed skating this week following offseason wrist surgery and said he is not certain he will be ready for the start of training camp in September.

"It's almost three months post-surgery next week Wednesday, and I'm just getting on the ice this week," Bennett said in remarks published on the Penguins website Wednesday. "It feels a lot better."

Bennett had his second wrist surgery in six months on May 22, with a four-month recovery expected, which would take him to late September.

"Playing it by ear right now," he said. "Every day it's feeling a little bit better and we're increasing a little bit in the weight training and on-ice stuff. It's still early and I'm glad that I'm here (in Pittsburgh) early enough where I can really see where I'm at."

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Fisher's best-case return to Predators late-Nov.: report

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 5:37 PM / News

NHL.com

Mike Fisher's recovery from an Achilles injury will keep the Nashville Predators forward out until at least late November, the team said in providing an update to The Tennessean on Wednesday.

"Everything is tracking to date, but the bottom line is still a 4-6 month injury," general manager David Poile told newspaper. "Optimistically, Thanksgiving and end of November. That's an optimistic target."

Fisher, 33, ruptured his Achilles tendon during a training session and had surgery July 3. A six-month recovery from then would take him into January.

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Coyotes, Gila River Casino agree on arena name deal

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 2:43 PM / News

NHL.com

The Arizona Coyotes announced Wednesday that the franchise and Gila River Casinos have agreed to terms on a nine-year partnership agreement that would include changing the name of the team's home arena to Gila River Arena.

The agreement is pending approval from the Glendale City Council on Sept. 9.

"On behalf of the entire Arizona Coyotes organization and IceArizona, we are thrilled to partner with Gila River Casinos and the Gila River Indian Community," Coyotes co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said. "Like the Coyotes, the Gila River Indian Community prides themselves on their commitment to business excellence and to their community. Pending Glendale City Council approval, we are looking forward to having Gila River's prestigious and reputable name associated with our great hockey team and our state-of-the-art arena. This will be a great fit for both the Coyotes and Gila River Casinos."

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The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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